Category Archives: Politico

Arizona Dames

I had an event earlier this week at the Capitol and I was wandering around the Senate building when I came upon a series of black and white photographs of former congressfolk.

Well, congressmen. You may see where this is headed. Note the following cast of characters:

Arizona history

Those two ladies at the bottom are listed as “Secretary” and “assistant.” 1953-1954

Arizona history

It pretty much stays this way for a decade. And May Belle Craig is eventually overtaken by her assistant, Louise Brimhall, in a coup:

Arizona history

Or perhaps retirement.

Arizona history

But eventually, 1960 — a woman comes along. Who is that dame in the center row of photos? (Note, the bottom left are still secretaries.)

Arizona history

Well done, Mrs. Thelma Bollinger from Mohave County. Well done. Especially because it seems Mr. Morrow was none too please to have to carpool with you to the capitol. (Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed to Arizona’s state senate to fill a vacancy in 1969. She’d go one to be the first woman appointed to the US Supreme Court.)

I can’t find anything substantive on Ms. Bollinger online, but by the looks of those earrings, I’m going to guess she was badass.


Muhammad Wept

Clean and Simple Mantle

This week’s attack on a Parisian satirical magazine should make us all irate. What makes someone pick up a weapon and forge forward to kill? What makes someone so full of anger and evil that death is the only option?

I am not sure, but the video of the attackers leaving and allegedly shouting their love to Muhammad is preposterous.

Murder is the coward’s way. It is easy. It doesn’t require intelligence, but simply a weapon. And murder in the name of faith is ridiculously stupid. Whether Christian conquerors, Nazis or the Islamic State — killing to prove your belief system is superior might be the most poorly thought out strategy ever.

How did that train of thought go?

“Hey! They are making fun of us! They are calling us barbarians. They are drawing cartoons about how violent and backward we are! I KNOW. WE SHOULD KILL THEM TO PROVE OUR POINT.”

The only thing this violence has created is more hate, anger, evil and quite possibly more war. (And, of course, fan the flames of the exact source they were trying to extinguish. The magazine’s cartoons are more prominent today than ever. Well done.)

While men in black stormed the offices of this magazine with their weapons, shooting and killing with abandon — an actual storm is ravaging Syria, leaving millions of mostly Islamic refugees in peril. The news wires are full of photos of dead children — those who have frozen to death in the latest weather while hiding in icy refugee tents with their parents.

Healing the sick. Feeding the hungry. Housing the homeless. Loving the orphans and the widows and those who feel cast aside. Letting others you disagree with speak and trying to understand, rather than silence — this is how we should express our faith. This is how we should evangelize.

Love is how we show our character — regardless of who or what you worship.



Oh, Monica

My take on the Monica Lewinski essay in this month's VF

I heard about the Monica Lewinsky essay in Vanity Fair earlier this month, and knew I’d pick up a copy. Monica is 6 years older than me. When she fatefully was interning at the White House, I was in my freshman year of college. I remember when the Starr report hit the web (then, still a novel new communication tool) and how the men at the school newspaper were drooling at the details. I was far too naive to listen to those words being read aloud in public.

I later dressed like Monica for Halloween and have certainly laughed at my fair share of jokes at her expense. I’ve also thoughtfully considered how daunting it would be at age 24 to be seducing and/or seduced by the President of the United States. Would I have had the willpower to walk away from “the world’s most powerful man?” I’ve made my fair share of bad decisions when it comes to dating.

My curiosity was piqued by this essay. What could she possibly have to gain by speaking up now, when another Clinton is headed toward a presidential campaign? How could her story be worth telling?

What I wasn’t expecting to read was her laments on how feminists didn’t stand up for her in the heat of the impeachment debacle, one that would follow her in the blue dress and beret. There was the predictable too — her life has been fairly miserable, the relationship was consenting and oh — by the way? She did not apologize.

I’ve been sitting on this response for a couple days. Who really cares what I have to say about Monica Lewinsky? (All five of you reading, thank you.) But here is why this continuation of a story needs to stop being published: she isn’t contrite, and she should be. She had a sexual relationship with a married man, which she calls consensual. And while I don’t doubt Willy used his influence to beguile women inappropriately, or that he is also in the wrong for participating in such actions when married to someone else, this feminist is loudly saying — NO.

No, Monica, you don’t get me to stand up for you. You embarrassed yourself with a married man. And today, you want us all to feel sorry for you in Vanity Fair because your actions, nearly two decades later, still embarrass us. I don’t feel sorry for you. I have no reason to forgive you — you both agreed to make this bed. But now I highly recommend you take this feminist’s advice and slide into a life of anonymity. Not because it is good for the Clintons, but because it is good for you.

Cut your hair, change your name and maybe move to another country. Start over, away from the shadow of this nonsense. Make a life of yourself that doesn’t link back to one dumb thing you did with one dumb man in your early twenties.

You did the deed, you saved the dress and now you have written the essay. Take that Oxford degree and go abroad. We are never going to stand up for you the way you so desire.


No One Wins


May we learn from our past.

There is a new war pending. Well, new to us. Thousands of Syrians are dead at the hands of other Syrians, with both sides likely using foreign-made (and secretly supported) weapons.

War is shitty. It is shitty for the families who are there, whose children will always suffer PTSD and will never grow to be the adults they could have been. Those without constant nightmares. Those who don’t jump and cover at loud sounds. Those who remember what it was like before their neighborhoods were gutted, first by other neighbors, and then by foreign forces. Before they hated everyone involved — that time before the war, when the world was a laboratory for their dreams.

There are Syrians who are dying and quite possibly being gassed by their own government. We are paying attention, the cynical side of me says, because there are so many foreign interests involved in this matter. Not because there are families just like ours but with a different color passport dead and dying from this ridiculous injustice.

I mean, if injustice was truly our motivation, we’d do something about:

Southern Sudan, which is once again in turmoil. One of the newest countries in the world has a perilously fragile government, which cannot protect its citizens from tribal unrest.

Uganda and Congo, where armies of children are kidnapped, given drugs and led into disastrous battles with weapons they can barely lift. Some 5 million Africans have died in World War III. Collectively, we don’t care. When was the last time you heard anything in the news about the Congo? (5 million people is roughly the entire population of the State of Arizona.)

Zimbabwe, where don’t even get me started on the farce that was their most recent election — once again allowing Mugabe to rule. His people starve. His country falls apart by the limbs. But hey, the US is not interested in getting involved.

North Korea, where famine is widespread and folks are encouraged to eat tree bark when their hunger gets too out of control.

In Mexico, where the northern half of the country remains paralyzed due to fear of cartel beheadings. Speak up against the Mexican mafia? Your head will be delivered faster than DHL to the nearest family member.

Or hey, if I was going to get really high on my soap box, if the US wanted to address injustice — how about the 1 in 5 children in our country who go to bed hungry every night? How about the cycles of poverty we cannot seem to break, and the kids who end up suffering as a result? (We choose not to break these cycles. Hunger in America — unlike hunger in many other countries — is not a problem of supply and demand. It is a matter of political will. And hungry kids do not get to vote.)

War sucks. The ramifications will be felt for generations. Our men will die in Syria. Our tax dollars will be used to kill Syrians. Syrians will continue to kill Syrians. The Russians, Chinese and American war machines will continue to be fed.

I’d prefer to feed the kids in all of these countries instead.


Mr. President

A few shots from President Obama’s recent visit to Golden:

Obama goes Golden

Helicopters, metal detectors and a 3 hour line to get into the park.

Obama goes Golden

Secretary of the Interior and former Colorado Senator Ken Salazar kicks off the event.

Obama goes Golden

It rained for 20 hours the day before. Most of us stood in mud or puddles. The park will likely need all new grass after 10,000 folks tromped through it. Of course, I worried about the long-term impact on the plants.

Obama goes Golden

There is the man of the hour! Also! This is my best shot!

Obama goes Golden

Damn you, teleprompter.

Obama goes Golden

On board.

Obama goes Golden

This dude was approximately 35 feet tall and directly in front of me. Half of my photos are focused on the back of his head instead of the President. I bet his photos are A+.

Obama goes Golden

Cheers, chants and screams from the large, varied crowd. It was hard not to feel like this was one of those moments I’d be telling my kids about one day.

Obama goes Golden

Obama goes Golden

4 more years!

Obama goes Golden

Even the houses got in the spirit. Mr President, thanks for coming to Jefferson County — the first to do so since Ulysses S. Grant.

You are a charismatic speaker and were so worth the ridiculous wait, working late hours to make up for the time away, the wet feet and the claustrophobia that struck when that massive crowd began to shift. I wish you all the best and you, Sir, have my vote.

Come back soon,


Denver 30: 20

Julez + Kent

I love politics. Listening to NPR, reading the opinion and editorial pages, watching the debates — all of it. Blame it on being a Girl State enthusiast or just being one of those kids who wanted desperately to be in student council. When I’m in Phoenix, I try to grab at least 10 minutes with my friend Kent. He is so damn smart and simply sees the world differently than I do. He too enjoys a long conversation about world affairs.  His wife, one of my closest friends, does not. And so, when we are in a group, Kent and I regularly find ourselves put together in one car while everyone goes in another. Because they know it is just a matter of time before the Middle East, women’s rights, energy trade, and the military come up in an often heated, and sometimes emotional, discussion.

December 30: 20

These conversations scratch a part of my brain that otherwise sits dormant.

December 30: 20

Once upon a time in Phoenix, I worked for a fairly important political figure. I learned a lot from her — and while I knew the players in Phoenix politically, I did not want to be involved. In Colorado, I don’t know a soul, which in this sense is refreshing. I don’t know about previous abuses of power and hypocrisy. How their wives/husbands are both “pro family” and “in rehab for extramarital sexual misconduct.” How they are anti-immigration and yet have that nanny from Honduras who isn’t paying taxes… How they believe in fighting for the environment and having a Hummer dealership. Naively, I get to march blind on to the political scene and get involved without packing any cynicism.

Okay, specific cynicism.

And to that, I say hooray! And watch out, pretty gold Denver capitol building. If I’m around this state long enough, we may spend lots of time together.


Mugabe + The White African

Burst of Happiness

Do you have Netflix streaming? If so, can I bother you to watch this movie soon? I watched it this weekend after Matt hassled me for weeks. It is heartbreaking. For a thousand reasons, it makes me so very angry and disgusted with world politics, racism, power and the state of African leadership. It is a must see film for those who think about international issues and want the world to be a more peaceful place.

Burst of Happiness

I don’t believe in injustice. In any form. Anywhere. And I’m unwilling to live in a world where it is so blindly accepted.

Please keep in mind, I am not unbiased. I live with a man whose family was evicted from their land in Zimbabwe, much like the family in the film. Matt’s family are just one of thousands who overnight lost all of their possessions simply because of the color of their skin. Zimbabwe has long been led by a genocidal maniac named Robert Mugabe who will stop at nothing to eradicate European blood from “his land.”

At first glance, this seems like a simple black vs. white issue. It isn’t. It is about justice. It is about the betterment of Zimbabwe. It’s about the millions who are starving in the breadbasket of Africa because the white farmers are living on the periphery (like Malawi), working other land where they are temporarily welcome. The farms they once ran, which fed Zim and many countries in the region, remain in tattered, burned pyres. Imagine the American midwest being a vast wasteland and all the farmers who had generations of experience coaxing the land to feed our giant nation living in Canada. Because they were green. And we no longer welcomed Green people.

I’m oversimplifying to make a point, but it isn’t far off.

Robert Mugabe prides himself in being the next Hitler. He is killing his own, ruining the country and we are doing nothing. In fact, we’ve done nothing for more than two decades.

Please watch the film. There are so many thoughtful, creative, dedicated folk who read this site. Surely we can come up with some way to bring more attention to the generation of misfits (Matt’s term) — those children of Zimbabweans who have no citizenship anywhere in the world, like the man living in my guest room.

Burst of Happiness

In the meantime, I’m going to beg Matt to let me publish an essay I wrote about his family’s experience fleeing Zimbabwe. It is important to share. As the typical American, I had no idea what hardship and heartbreak this group of people have survived.

“If good men do nothing, evil will prevail.” — from the opening scene




loving these

35th ave sew and vac

Fatty quarters

I’m thinking this pattern with a bamboo handle. Sweet, sweet moses these bags are going to rock.

So, I’ve got a bit of a bone to pick with Maureen Dowd. Ms. Dowd, op/ed writer for The New York Times, gave considerable print this week to how scorned women — harrigans — should behave in times of turmoil. Specifically, she focused her wrath on the Jenny Sanford, the wife in the middle of the Argentinan tan lined South Carolina governor scandal. Phew. That’s a spicy mouthful.

Here’s the deal — ladies, I’d be much happier if we stopped this. Stop giving each other advice on how you’d handle something so tender and raw. Stop beating each other up. Stop being judgmental and mean and remember that we are all in this together. I read that column and left with the sincere feeling that Ms. Dowd hasn’t ever been so vulnerable. Lucky her. Most of us have been through miserably heartbreaking pain that leaves you scratching your head wondering how in the world you’ll get dressed tomorrow. Without CNN on the front lawn to document each step.

I don’t know what I’d do if I was Jenny Sanford. But I do know that my opinion on the matter has changed since the Spitzer debacle. I am no longer so certain that life is black and white, simply wrong or right, up or down, etc. (Okay, I am still certain that Mr. Spitzer has a waspy wanker.)  There are somethings that fall in the gray that are ugly and horrible and private.

So, I’m not going to bash Maureen for her column because that would negate the point of all women being a part of this sisterhood. God knows, and oh, does He know, I am so far from perfect and have made so many mistakes in the past in talking trash about others. I am pretty sure I need to stop that right now. Instead, I’m really going to put effort into following the golden rule always, not just when I’m in front of the person.

What I would say to Maureen given the chance is:

“Look. Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes life hands you Pulitzers. Take a deep breath and refocus your efforts, words, energies on something that could perhaps make this world better. Teaching women how to handle themselves after adultery isn’t the best use of your talents.”

C’est tout. And it really is too bad I’ve decided to take the feminine high road this week because HELP ME RHONDA Sarah Pallin just quit. Wow.


Social Gardening


Admiring the perfection of nature last night while cooking…

I was in a meeting this morning discussing the AmeriCorps Vista program — which puts incredibly community-minded folks in volunteer opportunities with nonprofits and other groups nationally — listening and pondering the goals of the organization. In contrast to the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps is in part geared toward ending poverty in America.

The speaker elaborated on Vista volunteers receiving a small stipend monthly that barely covers their cost of living. They are to live poor to be more motivated to work for the poor, in theory. In the Peace Corps, I was paid $56 a month and you wouldn’t believe how high that placed me on the social ladder. I had my own home, never went hungry and had plenty of pocket change for bus trips back and forth to the major cities. (The buses rarely ran and were a complete pain in the ass — think 20 people, animals and babies in an 8 passenger Toyota van — but cost wasn’t one of the challenges thanks to someone similar to Intelligent Van Leasing.) In all fairness, I probably lived a more secure financial existence on that $56 dollars a month in Cameroon (as short as this adventure lasted) than I did on the $124 of financial aid per month I made work for three years of college. I did go hungry. Scraping together enough money for Taco Bell learning to rely on friends was humbling, at best. Regardless, neither situation made me feel sincerely poor or without hope. I always knew I had an education, good health and a strong family on which to rely.

Capturing the beauty of nature

Fundamentally, that’s the difference between true poverty and temporary class experiments. While Vista volunteers may have to creatively stretch every penny they earn to get by, chances are they’ve seen a dentist, are up to date with their immunizations, have never gone days with hunger, and have an address book full of friends and family who would take them in and help immediately if given the chance. I always had the ability to pull the ultimate “uncle!!” card in the Peace Corps, which I did after just five months. I returned to the capital and demanded my return ticket to the US.

The poor are without financial legacy. Most children born into poverty in the United States are born to children. The cycle of poor education and health is yet again planted in the worst neighborhoods, only to produce seedlings who will one day bare the same fruit. We all know of the bootstrap stories of those who’ve pulled themselves out of this routine. President Obama, potential Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and President Bill Clinton are in the minority. They had that je ne se quois to break through their environment for greater possibilities.

Portabello bliss

I’m not sure what we do to change these systemic flaws in American culture that keep certain sectors of society always planted in the same garden of despair. I admire the Vista volunteers working knee deep in the quagmire. Reminding those of the American dream — that you can be anything you want to be — must be far more complicated when dreaming itself is a luxury.



So, pigs went flying by earlier*, and I ended up squealing. Seriously, America? You couldn’t have made me prouder today. The millions gathered peacefully? Incredible. The general sense of awe and patriotism? Fantastic. The honorable new family moving into that great White House? Spectacular! (Although perhaps a wee bit color blind. Green shoes with a mustard yellow dress? Really? Otherwise Michelle, you looked truly Camelot.)

God bless the Obama family and the renewed sense of hope many of us are feeling. Let’s put this happiness and optimism to use and watch as this great man helps lead our country to new heights.


*um, yeah. The Cardinals? Super Bowl? Hell is freezing over, I hear. Maybe some of that cool weather will show here?